That Moment Your Research Breaks Through

Thursday, August 4, 2016

What financial providers need to know about young adults.

What if we reached young people at the moment they’re primed to to absorb financial education — a moment like their first paycheck? What if we used that moment to capture people’s attention, and we allow them to open that account to help get started?

MyPath, a San Francisco-based organization and Financial Health Network member, has been focused on youth financial empowerment for years. They’re pioneering new approaches to catalyze youth financial capability. By obsessing over pivotal moments in young people’s lives, they’ve designed programs that draw upon youth insights, research and their lessons from rapid iteration. Long before the term “financial capability” was being used, MyPath was paving the way. What is now reflected in the “financial capability” framework developed by Citi Foundation and Financial Health Network— to provide both financial education plus real-time product enrollment — is the way MyPath has been engaging youth, and with uniquely powerful results.

The results are groundbreaking. An academic study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco shows that their model achieved statistically significant outcomes: 97% of participants enrolled in accounts, 96% met their savings goals, and youth experienced marked improvements in their financial confidence and financial behaviors.

This is a first-of-its-kind approach and rigorously-designed experiment that is the result of years’ work, and a set of innovative partners and supporters. MyPath partnered with Self-Help Federal Credit Union to align their products with the MyPath Youth Banking Standards and they served as the financial institution partner in the experiment. Funding came from the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families, Financial Health Network, Citi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Charles Schwab Bank, and others.

Says Margaret Libby, Executive Director, “Financial service providers are trying to figure out how to engage with millennials. To design a product solution that would truly work for them, we knew that we needed to engage young people as partners in design, implementation and evaluation. Not a one-time thing, but ongoing engagement. The study results show the power of this approach.”

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